I have had the unique opportunity to train with one of the best athletes in the world. Michellie Jones is one of the most accomplished triathletes in the history of the sport to include first place at the infamous Ironman (Ironwoman?) in Hawaii and numerous other victories. When she was asked how she prepares for an event, Michellie said “lots of rest after lots of training”.

The setting was a local “Boot Camp” that is put on by her boyfriend, and it attracts a variety of amateur participants. I was paired up with Michellie to go through an 8 station loop course to be completed three times within the 55 minute session.

In a triathlon, the components are: Swim, Bike and Run. In Sales, it’s: Identify, Qualify, Develop and Close.

Half way through the first loop, I began to notice my heart rate rise and sweat level increase. How many times has Michellie done this routine vs. the amateur she was paired with? She didn’t appear to be nearly as flustered going into the second loop as I was, and she was even keeled as I struggled onto the tires for a resistance exercise on a two person pulley.

There were eight stations in the Boot Camp loop, and there are six skills in sales that we identify where mastery must be fluent in order to succeed: new business development, needs analysis, accessing key players, identification of value, opportunity control and negotiating/closing. How often do you run through all exercises to make sure you are in a position to win?

To compare myself to a professional athlete is silly, so I won’t go down that path. But what is the differential between an average sales person and the top performers in the field? Preparation and training are the key components.

How much time are you spending refining your skills so that you put yourself into a position to win?

As I recall limping around the office in the past, I was amazed at how sore certain parts of my body were and was reminded what it takes to succeed. And while I won’t be planning to compete in the next Iron Man, I will be practicing my sales skills so I am ready to win the next opportunity. How about you?